Canadian trans actor Ari Rombough, who recently appeared in the film red letter day and TV series Jannset to play Joyce in the upcoming TV series The last of us, an adaptation of the popular video game. Rombough joins a talented list of trans actors currently making positive and progressive changes within the entertainment industry, all of whom should be revered for their courage.
While there’s still a lot of work to be done on the civil rights front, recent societal changes have fortunately led to more opportunities for trans actors to enjoy success on the big and small screen than in the past. Along with an increase in the number of trans film and television characters, more and more talented trans actors are being cast in authentically roles that allow their natural skills to shine.
Ari Rombough began his acting career in 2010 via the web series bunny hug and quickly built a balanced film and television resume as they continue to increase the visibility of trans actors. In addition to acting in small independent films like red letter day and Burn your cardsAri has appeared on recent TV shows such as Fargo, black summerand Joe Pickettoften playing minor but memorable female characters.
While Rombough’s role as Joyce in The last of us will be a non-trans character Rombough assured his fans that “even though I’m not playing a trans character, I’m thrilled that the queer community will see themselves in a high-stakes post-apocalyptic drama brought to life by some very talented people at the closed off.” (by HBO instagram).
Arguably the most famous trans actor currently leading the way to equality is Elliot Page, the hugely talented actor who fans first fell in love with after the heartfelt coming-of-age story . Juno. A famous celebrity before the transition, Page gallantly embraced his identity as a trans man in front of the public so admirably that his popular persona on The Umbrella Academy also changed from a woman named Vanya to a man named Viktor.
In 2020, Page took his instagram page to proudly proclaim, “I love the fact that I’m trans. I love you and I will do whatever I can to change this world for the better.”
Laverne Cox has become the first transgender actress to earn a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in television history, doing so for her deeply significant portrayal of Sophia Burset in the acclaimed Netflix original series. Orange is the new black. Now a four-time nominee, Cox has been at the forefront of increasing TV roles for trans actors by brilliantly portraying Sophia as a true trans character.
With recent appearances in the Netflix series Invent Anna and the award-winning film Promising young womanCox continues to prove what a formidable acting talent she is while continuing to champion the LGBTQ+ community, making history as the first openly trans woman to win a 2015 Daytime Emmy Award, doing so for hosting the television documentary The T-word with Laverne Cox.
American trans actor Elliot Fletcher has played a wide variety of characters on popular TV shows such as Pretend, The Fosters, Shameless, Tell me your secrets, and more recently on Y: The Last Man. In 2017, Fletcher joined a group of trans actors to film a letter calling on Hollywood to expand film and television roles for trans actors (according to The Huffington Post).
While not limited to playing trans characters, Fletcher’s role as transgender Trevor on Shameless helped raise awareness by running a shelter for at-risk LGBTQ+ youth, which her boyfriend Ian (Cameron Monaghan) also championed.
Asia Kate Dillon
Also appearing in Orange is the new blackAsia Kate Dillon is another hugely talented trans actress who recently played The Adjudicator in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. However, neither role tops Dillon’s portrayal of Taylor Mason in Billionsthe shrewd and shrewd Ax Capital intern who forms her own rival company as CEO of Mason Capital.
As one of the smartest characters in Billions, Dillon made television history by becoming the first openly non-binary actor to portray a non-binary character on network television. As one of the smartest characters on the show, Dillon doubled down on criticizing the Emmys for his traditional gender categories, forcing MTV to create a gender-neutral actor honor (per Variety).
Aside from their role as Karshon in the upcoming DCEU blockbuster Aquaman and the Lost KingdomIndya Moore is a talented transgender and non-binary actor who stood out as transgender sex worker Angel in 26 episodes of Laid, one of the best FX Network original series of all time that chronicles the cultural lifestyle of the gay and trans community in New York City during the 80s and 90s.
Rising to prominence as a model before becoming an actor, Moore also recently starred Brianna Collier in the horror sequell Escape Room: Tournament of Champions. In 2019, Time named Moore one of the most influential LGBTQ+ people in the world.
Indya Moore Laid co-star Michaela Jae “MJ” Rodriguez made television history by becoming the first transgender actor to win a Golden Globe, doing so in 2021 for his standout performance as Blanca Rodriguez, an HIV-positive trans woman who ends up becoming a nurse. Rodriguez recently appeared in Lin Manuel Miranda’s Tick, tick… BOOM! and can currently be seen playing Sofia, one of the funniest characters in the new Apple TV+ series. Booty.
With guest roles enabled Nurse Jackie, Luke Cageand Carrie’s notebooks too, Rodriguez said Subway in 2019 that it’s refreshing to represent your community by “just making sure we speak for our community in the right way and do the work that needs to be done that a lot of people aren’t doing.”
Brian Michael Smith
Bravely breaking the mold to become TV’s first black trans man in a regular role (as Paul Strickland on 9-1-1: Lone Star), Brian Michael Smith has dedicated his career to trans rights advocacy. Smith broke out playing transgender cop Toine Wilkins on Ava DuVernay’s excellent TV show Queen Sugar, which led to his casting on The L-word: Generation Q in 2019.
With appearances on After and Blue blood moreover, Smith can be seen in the upcoming TV series Polyester. Discussing his motivations for rectifying what Smith saw as “null representation of transmasculinity,” Smith told the New York Times that it was “very isolating growing up and having these dreams. I didn’t see how I was going to be able to do that.” But he did indeed.
Marking the first trans actress to play a transgender superhero, Nicole Maines really stood out on super girl as Nia Nal aka Dreamer on the popular CW show. With over 60 episodes to really sink into a character very similar to hers in real life, Maines’ excellent performance should open more doors for trans actors to play trans characters.
Currently cast as Liza in the 2022 series good problem, Maines’ public advocacy for trans rights has been personal since she was a teenage plaintiff in a Maine Supreme Court case that upheld the legality for transgender children to use gender-conforming restrooms (per Charm).
After appearing on TV shows such as Suspended and Dirty work like movies The neon demon and The Snowman, Transgender actress Jamie Clayton has been cast as trans hacker Nomi Marks in Netflix Sense8. With later stays on Designated Survivor and The L word: Generation QClayton is set to star as Pinhead in the upcoming hellraiser to restart.
While her tweet has since been deleted, Clayton joined a list of trans actors criticizing Scarlett Johansson’s casting as a trans man in Rub and pull (by Advocate.com), proving her courageous call to action as an LGBTQ+ activist fighting for equal rights for her community.
NEXT: 10 Best LGBTQ+ Teen Shows, According To Ranker
90 Day Fiancé: Yara Zaya’s Best Post-Weight Beach Photos Ranked
About the Author